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Cougar boys mix experience and new talent in new season

Nov 30, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

Scott Groenke is the new boys basketball coach this year at Wind River High School. He comes to Wind River from Delta, Colo., where he coached middle school boys and girls basketball. He also coached cross country and track and field.

Prior to teaching in Colorado, Groenke was a high school basketball and track coach in Michigan.

Groenke replaces former WRHS coach Tony Selph.

Last year, Selph coached the Cougars to a third-place finish at the Class 2-A state tournament in Casper. At the state tourney, the Cougars lost to Lovell in the state semifinals.

WRHS beat Greybull in the third-place game to finish the season on a winning note. Wyoming Indian defeated Lovell in the state championship game.

The Cougars' top players in the 2011-12 season were all-state players Tyson Lone Bear and Jesse Brown, two of the top scorers in 2-A.

Lone Bear is now playing junior college basketball for Central Wyoming College coach Steve Lindley. Lone Bear comes off the bench for the 9-0 CWC team.

Brown is on the basketball roster at Northwest College.

2012 Cougars

"We are very young with a couple of experienced players back from last season," Groenke said.

The Cougars have been preparing for the upcoming season for the last three weeks.

"The first few weeks have been spent getting to know the players as people and basketball players," Groenke said.

"We have spent most of our times just trying to get organized for our first few games."

The senior players for WRHS are Ryan Weliever, Roger Wagon and Ward Gordon.

Weliever brings an inside threat to the Cougars.

Wagon and Gordon are speedy players that can hit the 3-pointers at any time.

"I expect them to be positive leaders for the younger players, both on and off the court," Groenke said.

Groenke will count on juniors and sophomores to fill in the rest of the varsity spots.

The Cougars began the season at the Big Horn Basin tournament.

Wind River will play Burlington, Greybull and Rocky Mountain in the two-day, pool-play format.

"I hope our players are exposed to different styles of play, so we can use these game as a learning experience," Groenke said.

The Cougars, Wyoming Indian, Shoshoni, Kemmerer and Big Piney play in the Class 2-A Southwest conference.

Burns, Lusk, Pine Bluffs, Saratoga and Southeast are stacked in the Class 2-A Southeast league.

The Northwest is made up of Greybull, Lovell, Riverside, Rocky Mountain and Thermopolis.

Big Horn, Moorcroft, Sundance, Tongue River and Wright are in the 2-A Northeast.

Wind River's first home game is Saturday, Dec. 8, vs. Rocky Mountain.

The Cougars play Thermopolis, Dec. 21, in another home game before the Christmas break.

WRHS is ranked No. 5 in the first Class 2-A boys basketball poll.

Wyoming Indian has the top spot. The Lovell Bulldogs are No. 2. Big Horn is third and Burns is fourth.

In the Class 1-A boys rankings, St. Stephen's stands at No. 4.

Burlington has the No. 1 spot. Snake River sits at No. 2. Ten Sleep is third. Lingle-Fort Laramie is fourth.

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Wind River, Cougars